Monday, October 23, 2023

FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring Gail Robertson

This year, as the seasons change and we enjoy fall, I’ve launched my FALL BACK TO READING SERIES. The series will feature two dozen leadership and marketing experts, who will share their inspiration in both fiction and nonfiction, and hopefully, provide the impetus to read more. To quote New York Times Bestselling author Kristin Harmel, “If you give a person a book, you give him the world.” For today’s post, I’d like to introduce Gail Robertson.

Here's how Gail writes her bio...Everyone has a unique story. GailNow’s mission as a Public Relations Strategist is to help deliver those stories to the world. She helps manufacturers, specifically those in moldmaking, to tell AND share their stories. Gail provides virtual and in person coaching (in workplaces, events, and tradeshows) to "break the mold" of traditional marketing. She is also the host of Curious Minds on her GailNow YouTube Channel, where she shares ideas without prejudice, opinions without criticism, and the philosophy and reasoning behind her mantra: "Sign Up, Suit Up and SHOW Up." She is also a keynote speaker on curiosity, media, and public relations, and how everyone has a story worth sharing...maybe even a book! 

QUESTION: Which three business books have made the biggest impact on your career?

GAIL ROBERTSON: Here are my three:

(1) The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton 

(This book should be required reading for all students!) 

(2) The Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer 

(3) High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard 

QUESTION: Who is your favorite author, and why?

GAIL ROBERTSON: Bryce Courtenay.

I read his book, The Power of One, while on a plane travelling to Australia in the 1990's. Then I looked him up while there, met him, and he was a great host, a charismatic storyteller and very true to his writing style. It was life-changing for me, since it also showed how powerful it can be when we take risks, when me make calls that scare us! That one phone call led to my meeting him and having a delightful discussion over tea at his office in North Sydney! A memory I will never forget! And his book: The Power of One is equally memorable. 

"The Power of One is a novel by Australian author Bryce Courtenay, first published in 1989. Set in South Africa during the 1930s and 1940s, it tells the story of an English boy who, through the course of the story, acquires the name of Peekay. The author identifies "Peekay" as a reference to his earlier nickname "Piskop": Afrikaans for "Pisshead." It is written from the first-person perspective, with Peekay narrating (as an adult, looking back) and trusting the reader with his thoughts and feelings, as opposed to a detailed description of places and account of actions."

The novel had an impact on me because the message was all about believing in yourself to overcome adversity and many difficult things we may experience everyday. Interestingly, today, my favorite show is Ted Lasso, that also focusses on how much we need to believe in ourselves. Even my 3-step process of "Sign Up. Suit Up and ShowUp" starts with the power of mindset. We must first sign up and commit to taking action. And for that, we must believe that we can do something.

QUESTION: What book did you read in high school or college that, to this day, you still remember vividly, and why?

GAIL ROBERTSON: The Diviners by Canadian author Margaret Laurence. 

It was actually on a banned list, so that made it even more appealing, I think. The teacher made it optional reading, so of course, many of us added it to our list. Phenomenal writing and storytelling.

Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia: 

"The Diviners is a novel by Margaret Laurence. Published by McClelland & Stewart in 1974, it was Laurence's final novel, and is considered one of the classics of Canadian literature. The novel won the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction in 1974. The protagonist of the novel is Morag Gunn, a fiercely independent writer who grew up in Manawaka, Manitoba. Morag has a difficult relationship with her daughter Pique and her Métis lover Jules Tonnerre, and struggles to maintain her independence. The book has been repeatedly banned by school boards and high schools. It is a regularly featured book on the American Library Association's Freedom to Read campaign."

QUESTION: Do you intersperse fiction with your business reading? If yes, what was the last work of fiction that you read, and what caught your attention about it?

GAIL ROBERTSON: I read fiction when on holiday, usually John Grisham and Canadian Rick Mofina (highly recommended, since as a former journalist who covered the police beat, his descriptions are well-researched). Love me a good crime fiction book!

QUESTION: If you created a nonprofit organization to promote reading to children and young adults, what would you name it, and why?

GAIL ROBERTSON: Curious Minds. 

This is also the name of my YouTube show: Curious Minds with GailNow. While my goal for the show is this, reading can also encourage curiosity, critical thinking, and convince us to get outside our echo chambers. I want to hear different views. I am against censorship and advocate for free speech (of course, with limits).

Reading as a child was a major part of my growth and my ability to better understand the world. I also travelled as a young adult, and that further confirmed for me the value of exploring different ideas, different views, and different perspectives. Lastly, my son also attended a local library reading group at age 4, and I have always supported local libraries! 

SHARE THIS: Reading as a child was a major part of my growth and my ability to better understand the world. ~@GailNow #ReadingOpensMinds #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My gratitude to Gail for participating in this year’s fall back to reading series and for sharing her inspiring recommendations!

Image Credit: Justin Heap via Unsplash.

Connect with Gail at these links:




Check out Gail’s previous appearance here on my blog:

Storytelling, Connections, and Social Media - 2022:

Note: Gail mentioned the Freedom to Read Foundation in one of her responses. Here's some info from Wikipedia to learn more.


The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) is an American non-profit anti-censorship organization, established in 1969 by the American Library Association. The organization has been active in First Amendment-based challenges to book removals from libraries, and in anti-surveillance work. In addition to its legal work, the FTRF engages in advocacy and public awareness, such as its sponsorship of the annual celebration of "Banned Books Week."

Established in 1969 by members of the American Library Association, including Judith Krug, Alexander Allain, and Carrie C Robinson. the organization was founded as "the American Library Association's response to its members' interest in having adequate means to support and defend librarians whose positions are jeopardized because of their resistance to abridgments of the First Amendment; and to set legal precedent for the freedom to read on behalf of all people."

The organization's charter describes four purposes:

(1) Promoting and protecting the freedom of speech and of the press;

(2) Protecting the public's right of access to information and materials stored in the nation's libraries;

(3) Safeguarding libraries' right to disseminate all materials contained in their collections; and

(4) Supporting libraries and librarians in their defense of First Amendment rights by supplying them with legal counsel or the means to secure it.

The organization works through litigation, consumer education, and awarding grants to other individuals and entities working on similar projects.

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